Not MilkI don’t need an expert to tell me that I eat too much dairy.  I live with a 93 year old mom who puts sour cream on everything.  So when I decided to prepare for my interview with Mark Bittman on his new diet book VB6:  Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…For Good (well that’s a mouthful), I knew dairy would be my waterloo. I was especially anxious about my morning coffee and cereal. I’m fine with eating muesli instead of more processed cereal, but I’m used to making it with Strauss whole milk. And what do I put in my morning coffee? Yep, there’s more Strauss whole milk. So I dutifully went to the supermarket and bought one of each of the “milks”, thinking the whole time of Louis Black’s screed on soy milk (“there’s no soy tittie is there?  It should be soy juice!”).

I came home,  lined up a bunch of glasses and proceeded to pour an inch of each:  soy, rice, almond, hemp, yuck. First of all I don’t want presweetened anything. I don’t use sugar in coffee or on cereal. And vanilla – must it be everywhere? But the characteristic I like the least in all of these “milks” was the texture. It was like bad 1% milk, which I don’t understand at all. If you’re going to have something fakey, substitutey why go for the lowest satisfaction profile? Why not try to emulate whole milk? Which is what the new wave of almond milk delivery companies do at $16 a quart. There has to be another way.

not milk 2

So I started fiddling around in the kitchen. First I started with almond milk. I made it two ways. First up was the most commonly found method online which went something like this: 2 cups almonds, 4 cups water. Soak, blend strain out all the good part using a sieve. Still yuck. It was too thin and too much a waste of expensive and delicious almond solids. Then I migrated to the Italian method:  2 cups almonds, 2 cups water, soak, blend, strain through muslin dishtowel, squeezing out every last bit of goodness from the almonds. That was definitely better, delicious in fact (much like the high end delivery options) but expensive and still missing a kind of luxuriousness I was looking for.

Then in my prep for Mr. Bittman I read his sidebar on “Milk Without Dairy” and saw the word oat. Hmmm. Oat milk. Oats have that viscous texture when mixed with liquid, if I could tame that down maybe it would work. Then I read “take 1 cup of dried unsweetened coconut, rolled oats, or nuts” and I thought why do I have to choose? What would happen if I mixed them all together? So I did; I mixed almonds, oats and unsweetened dried coconut in equal proportions. I followed Mark’s instructions to use boiling water in a 2:1 ratio. So I put the dried stuff in the blender followed by boiling water. (Careful to put a cloth on the lid and hold it down well and start the blender slowly so I wouldn’t burn myself.) I zapped it all then let it steep for 15 minutes. Then I strained it and refrigerated it. Two hours later when it was good and cold I took a sip. Wow. Could it be? It was actually too thick. I added another 2 cups of cold filtered water and shook the bottle. Incredible. Slightly sweet, complex flavor and a luxurious mouth feel. In coffee it’s extraordinary. And mixed with the raw oats of muesli it’s really rich. With the morning dairy thing licked now I can muscle my way through the rest of my VB6 eating day with no problems at all.

 

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  • http://twitter.com/FeedBodySoul @FeedBodySoul

    SUPER cool!

  • http://twitter.com/Whiskey013 @Whiskey013

    I made this yesterday and admit i was skeptical as my other attempts at making almond or other "not milks" have been – well, as Evan says – yuck! this milk is really quite nice – so far i've used it in a smoothie and my morning coffee (ok admittedly I used half "not milk" and half the real stuff for the coffee – that switch will be more gradual :). This is really simple to make and worth a try.

  • http://Www.socialmediabizsummit.com Renee Martinez

    Just made this…it’s amazing. One caveat, I did not strain the stuff- instead I blended super fine and it seems ok. I added a touch of cocoa to a cup while still warm and it was a delicious hot chocolate.

    • Evan Kleiman

      HI Renee,
      Did you use the 1/2 cup or 1/4 cup oats? Just curious

  • Marjorie Miller

    I made this last night and just had it in my coffee. The flavor in the coffee was nice, but it didn't lighten the coffee (which was surprising!) and the texture is a bit strange (gloopy, syrupy). Into a Vita-Mix with the 1/2 c of unsweetened coconut, I used 1/4 cup Bob's red mill extra thick old fashioned oats and 1/2 cup of slivered almonds because that was what I had. I strained it but not much pulp remained – maybe because the Vita-Mix is such a strong pulverizer. Anyway, I like it better than what I can get in the store. Thanks, Evan!

  • Jen

    Does anyone know the calories or nutritional content?

  • Ellen

    I'm sure you know this, but I'm surprised that you didn't mention that you can dry out the solids on a sheet pan on low in the oven, and use them as a flour substitute in baking. People pay a premium for almond meal at the store – might as well get double use out of those expensive almonds! I've been able to substitute them for about 1/3 of the flour in a recipe. Can't wait to try this with my 6 year old budding chef! He already likes almond milk, so making it together will be even better. Thanks!
    PS – I adore Mark Bittman

    • Evan Kleiman

      HI Ellen, Thanks for the tip for using the solids. I indeed forgot to mention all the goodies i make with it. I add the almond milk "strainings" to: granola mixtures, muesli, regular hot breakfast cereals, pasta dough, cookie crumble pie crust, ground meat for meatloaf/meatballs, etc. It's so versatile.

  • http://omegavrt350hd.org/ David

    Wow! Great! I'll try it! It's really simple and fast. I always wonder why such almonds milk is so expensive at the markets? I like it very much but didn't buy a lot of it. What may be an expiration for such milk? How many days? I've heard from somebody that he puts the almonds to the water before for a few hours for soaking. After that it much more easier to mix them in blender. Hope it helps. Thanks a lot!

    • Evan Kleiman

      Hi David,
      I started by soaking the almonds overnight, which works great. But given my last minute nature I've found that pouring boiling water over the mixture of almonds, oats, coconut and letting it soak from 15 minutes to an hour does the trick too.

  • Beckey

    Will it froth for a latte/cappuccino? Sounds great. Will try it.

    • Evan Kleiman

      HI Beckey,
      I've never tried. Let me know if you do.
      Evan

  • http://www.jessedart.com jesse

    It's great! Sometimes we soak the almonds overnight to make them a bit less chunky, which helps in the blender.

  • mary

    My vitamix wouldn't make it super smooth. How long did you blend?

    • evankleiman

      I have the Vitamix 5200, not the super fabulous one. I blend for about a minute, but I've increased the steeping in hot water time to 1/2 hour.

  • Cynthia

    Thanks for this article. How good was the Italian method with equal parts water and almonds? I ask because can't do oats right now as I'm eliminating grains along with the dairy ;-(

    • evankleiman

      Italian method is great. I would definitely soak the almonds in the water overnight in the fridge, then blend it all together the next day, instead of using the boiling water method.

  • http://www.beautifulnow.is shira

    Hi! We really loved your recipe and photo! So much so, we shared it on our new site BeautifulNow (www.beautifulnow.is) We hope you like it! We'd love to know what you think of the site in general. And we'd love to feature more of your work. We look forward to seeing you as part of our new community!

    • evankleiman

      Hi Shira, Is it part of the Almond Joy? Cause I don't see it.

  • heidi

    Thanks for this useful recipe. Not having to soak the nuts is a huge timesaver. It's so creamy at the original strength that we had to dilute it down quite a bit — we're just not used to cream-like texture in our milks anymore! We like the body of it, and the flavor, and that it's flexible and fast.

    • evankleiman

      Thanks Heidi! I still soak the almonds when I think about it, then I also add the boiling water. It's even creamier. Kind of nuts. hehehe

  • http://skinnywithfiber.org/ Christine Derrel

    Wow, this looks sooo TASTY!!!!

  • Dean

    I would consider just letting it cool down to room temp, or cool in the fridge, then pour into a nut milk bag. You can get them on Amazon. A good one is about $10, but will last longer than a cheap one. You can then wring the milk through and there will be zero pulp in your end product. I use one for juicing, and I also use it when I make almond milk in my juicer. That method also makes GREAT almond milk. You can see a video for how to do it online. I think the video is on the discountjuicers site,or his youtube channel. He uses the Omege VRT-350 to make it (which is what I have). You do have to soak your almonds for that method though. This is a great idea to incorporate the oats and the almonds together. I have to try it. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Jack

    Thanks Evan, That does come out nice, but like Renee I just blended the mess out of it with a nutra bullet. I like the idea of not loosing any fiber. But is is a little bit of work to keep it up. I think I'll still buy the Blue Diamond unsweetened from Costco, I really do like it on a cereal with berries, or just by itself sometimes. The coffee problem seems to be the deal breaker for most people, but I like my coffee black no sugar : ). Evan your the best!

  • Barbara

    Just made this: looks and smells delicious. Would like to know the calorie count as well. Once the liquid is strained, there's a "mush" left that looks like it can be used in baking. Any ideas?

  • Anita

    Thanks for this great recipe! I had to add quite a bit more water in the end, because I used my vitamix for 1 minute and it made quite a thick mixture (even after straining). It was great because we got more "milk" and after chilling in the frig. the taste is fantastic. Very close to what we have purchased in the store, only better! Added a little vanilla, pinch of salt, and a small bit of honey. Thanks again!

  • evankleiman

    Yes! I think honey would make a great substitute. So would adding a sweeter nut like pecans.

  • http://buyskinnyfiberonline.net Jens Holvoet

    I'm not a fan of milk, but I tried this recipe and liked it though.

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